Community care eases pressure on hospitals

TheStar.com – Opinion/Readers’ Letters – Re: Overcrowded hospitals must get creative, April 16
April 21, 2017.   Deborah Simon

We read with interest your recent articles regarding hospital overcrowding in Ontario and are pleased to hear the province will be providing assistance in the upcoming budget. Hospital patients deserve access to timely, high-quality care.

Home and community care are complementary services to hospital care. Ontarians need both strong home and community care and strong hospital care.

The rhetoric suggests that hospital funding has been limited in order to drastically increase funding for home and community care. In reality, funding for home care increased from 4.32 per cent to 4.92 per cent of the total health budget between 2008/09 and 2015/16. Funding for community support services, including home support, respite care, Alzheimer’s day programs and Meals on Wheels increased from 1.24 per cent to 2 per cent. As hospital funding makes up a full third of the total health budget, pitting the two sectors against one another doesn’t make much sense.

Home and community care offers enormous value to the health system, at just a fraction of the cost of institutional care.

But home and community providers are struggling to meet increasing demand as the province shifts more care into the community. Many are facing up to seven consecutive years of frozen base budgets and have been forced to create waitlists or cut services.

Properly supported, home and community care would reduce the strain on hospitals by reducing emergency room visits and helping clients return home to live independently for as long as possible.

Home and community care is a smart investment in the future of Ontario’s health care system. And collaboration between parts of the health system is the smart choice for Ontario’s patients.

Deborah Simon, CEO, Ontario Community Support Association

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